Week 2: Emily Priebe Response to Viewings

After watching videos on both the WITNESS and EngageMedia sites, I was struck by the theme of preservation. The WITNESS website lists preservation as one of their main aims stating that while they are “working to secure the future of human rights video, we are also helping to preserve its past.” Although much of video advocacy work is providing an immediate on-the-ground record of what is happening in places where human rights violations are occurring, concurrently it also must act as a piece of history that informs everything that came before it and everything that will come after in regards to specific human rights issues. But while the video lives on, does the message behind some of the videos live on with it?

EngageMedia’s editorial policy states “We are looking to create a more thoughtful space for works that have significant impact on viewers.” But what exactly are they looking for that impact to be? Advocacy on the part of the viewers? Immediate action? Beyond increasing awareness and preserving the issues, does there need to be an overarching message to rally around? I was surprised that there weren’t more calls-to-action, or “here’s how you can get involved” messaging throughout the videos.

One of my problems with both sites is that some of the videos didn’t clearly articulate what could be done after you press play. With so much access to video and so many people on the ground filming these human rights issues, I think there is a much greater need to frame the context surrounding the problems in the midst of an onslaught on images, and really identify how people can help with these issues long after the view counts rack up on YouTube. The WITNESS organization’s long-term strategic partnerships, on the other hand, (as mentioned in the TEDx Talk) work to alleviate some of this problem by preserving, contextualizing, and following up on continuing global and human rights issues.

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6 comments to Week 2: Emily Priebe Response to Viewings

  • kblack7@uoregon.edu

    I was also amazed at the theme of preservation. It seems that the two groups push advocacy and have had some successes within various campaign’s that they have done. However, some of the video’s focus is primarily preservation of an event or wrongdoing. How do you think that they could work towards a call to action?

    • epriebe@uoregon.edu

      Steven Wheeler, in his Week Two post, brought up what I thought was a great idea. I think using the sites as a hub for more information about the issues instead of just as a display vehicle for the videos would be a great idea. For videos that didn’t have as much narrative structure, this would give the videos more context about the significance of a certain issue.

      In terms of promoting calls-to-action I think there are a few things that could be done. A button on the video that said “Contact Your Senator (or Representative) could provide a link to email and lobby your elected representative about the given issue. Or a button on the video page that says “Find Out You Can Help” could take you to a page with information on a relevant NGO working with that specific human rights issue. A simple “Join the Discussion” link could start conversation that turns into advocacy on these video platforms themselves. The videos are inspiring on many levels. With a little more framework I think these organizations could turn inspiration into action.

      • kblack7@uoregon.edu

        I think that you and Steven are absolutely right. Unfortunately, it is sad that we have realized just how much more impact these sites could be making through a few simple additions to the site, yet the creators did not think of it themselves?

  • jschaub@uoregon.edu

    I, too, am concerned about messages getting lost over time because of a lack of perspective/context. Context is everything, especially since people from all over the world, coming in from different cultural upbringings, may not understand some of the messages if context is not clear or absent.

    I watched a video and posted it on my Week 2 assignment because I couldn’t tell by what I was seeing if people were fighting each other in conflict, or if they were really revved up and ready to brawl others who were not in this moving group of people. When two tanks approached and drove through this crowd, I wondered if this was going to be another Tiananmen Square protest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989), or if the group was going to attack the tank and vis-a-vis. It was compelling and confusing all at the same time.

  • kgaboury@uoregon.edu

    Change is easy to envision, but much more difficult achieve — especially in the countries where these human rights violations are happening. The Rodney King beating, which Witness lists as the catalyst for its formation, led to the L.A. riots and initiated serious conversations about police brutality, racism and social inequality in the United States. Unfortunately, the avenues for social change are not as clear cut in other non-democratic countries. I guess I’m saying that it’s possible the creators’ ambition outweighed their actual knowledge of the barriers actually faced by their advocates.

  • dereky@uoregon.edu

    Emily,
    I felt like there was something missing in most of what I watched from the Witness and Engage Media websites. I agree with you that there should be some way for the viewer to participate or help. The videos all provided insight to lives that are drastically changed for the worse. I am wondering if it is just a conditioned response for some of us, since we are bombarded with commercial ads that use video (commercials) to sell products. Do we just expect a pitch on some action after viewing a video because we’ve been brainwashed by clever marketing schemes? I think maybe some of us care more than others to become active participants for change too. Maybe that’s why we both wanted the last section of a video on these sites to contain how we could help. I did view one video that ended with contact information to donate money to help their school (Engage Media- “I’m a Papuan Kid” video).

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